Dolphin Pose / Forearm Down Dog / Headstand Prep
This newsletter focuses on the bringing the sacred into your yoga practice and your life and highlights the Crown Chakra. Headstand pose is an excellent pose for stimulating the Crown Chakra. However, Headstand pose is not a pose I use in my yoga classes, and I use a headstand prop in my own practice. That being said, I still want to emphasize a pose that activates the crown chakra!
My March 2011 newsletter highlighted Standing Straddle Forward Fold as a headstand prep pose—an option to headstand that brings many of the benefits of headstand pose without the possibility for injury. This newsletter will focus on another headstand prep pose—Dolphin Pose.
- Cools down anger and relieves depression
- Calms the mind and gently stimulates the nerves
- Slows down the heartbeat
- Aligns the spinal column
- Increases flexibility of hips, knees and ankles and reduces stiffness in the heels
- Strengthens shoulders, arms, legs, upper back, abdominals, lower back, ankles
- Stretches glutes, shoulders, calves, hamstrings, Achilles tendons, and arches
- Therapeutic for flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis and asthma.
- Improves the complexion by bringing more blood into the face and head
- Improves digestion
- Helps prevent hot flashes during menopause and osteoporosis
- Relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
- May help improve immunity by stimulating your circulatory system. It increases blood flow to your sinuses, which may help you recover faster from the common cold, according to “Yoga Journal.”Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/390596-yogas-effect-on-the-immune-system/#ixzz1Kdon5aVJ
- Could be used as modification for Downward Facing Dog when there are wrist issues.
- Dolphin Pose is an inversion, especially when done as a headstand prep (See below). Inversions stimulate the thymus which regulates our immune system, and the thyroid which regulates our metabolism. They also bring fresh, oxygenated blood to the brain and face invigorating and nourishing them. When done correctly, inversions also release tension in the neck and the spine.
From all fours, clasp your opposite elbows to establish the correct distance you want to have your elbows placed in this pose. This aligns the elbows with the shoulders.
Then interlace your fingers as though you are about to say a prayer and press the outside edge of the forearms into the mat.
Take the bottom pinky finger and pull it up and into the clasped hands so that the base of your clasped hands is solid.
Curl your toes under and push your hips up into the air, straightening the legs, as you would in downward facing dog.
Relax your head and keep your head suspended in mid-air away from the floor. Your head should not rest on the floor. Remember to keep your neck soft.
- If your back rounds, bend your knees. (Not Shown)
Not sure of your pose? Add a prop!
- Open your shoulders by lifting your elbows on a rolled-up sticky mat and pressing your inner wrists firmly to the floor. Not Shown (Source: Yoga Journal)
- Do dolphin pose at the wall—clasp your hands as above, and lay the forearms firmly against the wall keeping the shoulders directly in line with the elbows. Keep your upper arms horizontal to the floor, your throat in line with the shoulders, and the wrists firmly against the wall. Press your chest toward the wall as your shoulder blades go more deeply toward each other and into your back, “cradling” your heart.
A simple push away from the wall is your exit as you rest your arms at your sides.
From Dolphin Pose walk your feet as far forward to your interlaced hands as is comfortable for your body. At the full extent of this option, aim to have the crown of your head parallel to the floor, but still floating in the air. Keep the elbows in line with your shoulders.
This is as close to the headstand prep portion of the pose that I get. It is still an excellent way to stimulate the crown chakra—our Chakrascope focus.
A nice flow to build core strength as well as triceps is to flow from forearm plank (shown below) with clasped hands to dolphin pose (shown above)—“dolphin swim”. Make sure you keep the shoulders directly over the elbows during the plank portion of the flow to protect the shoulders.
Contraindications and cautions:
- Practice this pose only if shoulders are healthy and stable.
- Do not do this pose if you have glaucoma
- For shoulder or neck injuries, keep knees bent.
- Omit this pose in late-term pregnancy
Spiritual aspects of Dolphin Pose:
- Inversions, in general, allow us to view life from another angle. While in an inversion the energy of the second (creative/sensual) chakra and our solar plexus (personal power) chakra are guided down toward the heart encouraging heart-focused creativity and action.
- In Ted Andrew’s book, Animal Speak, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, Dolphins main power is the power of breath and sound. “Tension and stress can be released by simply imitating the spouting breath that dolphins use upon surfacing….Breath control is the key to the power of the dolphin.”
- They make their home in the sea which, by some accounts, is where life began. Dolphin “medicine” can lead you to the beginnings of yourself. Dolphins have a sonar ability. “It uses a series of clicks and responds to the feedback of those clicks as the sound reverberates. Sound breath and water are all considered the sources of all life. Sound is the creative life force. Sound came forth out of the womb of silence and created all things. Learning to create inner sounds so that you can create outer manifestations is part of what dolphin can teach.” Sounds a lot like mantra meditation practices would further expand upon dolphin’s energy.
Animal Speak, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, by Ted Andrews.
Beth Shaw’s YogaFit®, The program for a more powerful, flexible, and defined physique, Second Edition